California just legalized recreational marijuana and it could mean a major change in one part of the state.
What has been known as wine country, could soon be called marijuana country as vineyard operators are seeing the benefits of becoming cannabis growers.
Harvest winegrapes to make wine has been an ideal living for many farmers in the northern part of California, but with the legalization of marijuana, there could be a new profit crop in counties like Sonoma and Mendocino.
Steve Dutton, the president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau has said, “As a sustainable farmer, you have to be willing to change with the market, and with crops that are profitable.”
Dutton and his family farms 1,200 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.
Amanda Reiman, the community manager of Flow Kana, a California-based, small batch cannabis brand powered by craft farmers, has said, “I think that cannabis and wine have amazing potential for a symbiotic relationship, and the reason this region is used for that production is the soil and the air and the unbelievable ecological qualities that we have up here in Northern California that are unique to the world.”
Dutton went on to say, “If it helped keep my farm business, sure. I have no idea what I’ll be doing in the future, I have no idea what my kids will be doing. My family has grown every crop that you can grow here in Sonoma County. At one time hops were profitable. My family farmed walnuts for many years and they became not profitable. We used to grow a lot of prunes here but then they went away. Then we started farming apples but we struggled for many years. Thank God we had grapes.
“They became profitable and have kept being profitable, but in the future, who knows?” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to see all these vineyards going away, but that’s not to say you won’t see an acre of grapes removed here and there for an acre of marijuana.”